A Look Back at the WIFTV Actor Career Mentorship Program With Michele Povill

With applications currently open for the WIFTV Actor Career Mentorship Program, I contacted actor and former WIFTV Actor Career Mentorship Program Mentee, Michele Povill, to discuss her experience in the program.

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Michele Povil

Michele shared three aspects of the program that stood out to her – the first one being the application process itself. She explained that filling out the application was a great exercise because “it really made me clarify my goals and identify what I wanted from the program.” At the time, Michele was looking to get back into acting after a 35-year break; and expressed, in her application, that she wanted to be paired with an older mentor. Considering that one of Michele’s stated goals was to get an agent, the jury determined that, although Johannah Newmarch was a younger mentor, she would be an excellent match for Michele. Having taken a 10-year hiatus from acting herself, Johanna had the knowledge and experience to guide Michele towards achieving her goals. “Johanna was terrific as a mentor,” raved Michele, “it was great that she was aware of what it was like getting back into the business.”

The second feature of the program that Michele found beneficial was the required monthly volunteer commitment. “Volunteering at Quest Outreach Society was something I might not have done otherwise, and I am very appreciative to the program for this opportunity. It gave the mentees an opportunity to get to know each other while giving back to the community. It felt like we were having a positive impact. “

Lastly, Michele landed an agent and succeeded in meeting her goal. She credited the program director, Krista Magnusson, for developing a program that focuses on meeting goals and individual growth. “Throughout the program, you are tasked with looking at where you are, where you want to be, and whether you are on track to getting there,” recounted Michele, “If the program was going to be effective, you, as a mentee had perform these tasks and answer these questions for yourself.” This was a valuable lesson that continues to guide her as she pursues her career.

Find out more about the WIFTV Actor Career Mentorship Program here.

 

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LINDSAY PETERS EXPLAINS HOW THE FROM OUR DARK SIDE WINNERS GOT TO PITCH THEIR PROJECTS AT THIS YEAR’S FRONTIÈRES MARKET

When this year’s From Our Dark Side Genre Concept Competition winners were announced, the five recipients knew that the accelerator program included a trip to the Frontières Co-Production Market in Montreal. What they did not know is that this year they would have the amazing opportunity to pitch their projects at the first ever Directed by Women pitch sessions at Frontières.

Frontières, organized by Fantasia International Film Festival, is a co-production market that provides a launch point for both established and emerging genre auteurs to get their films made through pitching opportunities and networking events. WIFTV had the pleasure of speaking with Lindsay Peters, the Market Director at Frontières, about how this unique opportunity came about and what she sees for future.

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Lindsay Peters – Market Director at Frontières Market

WIFTV: How long have you been working with Frontières?

Lindsay: I have worked on Frontières since its beginning. It began in 2012 and I took over as director in 2014, so it has been for the last 3 years.

W: And this was the first year that Frontières had the Directed By Women pitch sessions?

L: We have had this really nice collaboration with Women in Film & Television Vancouver and the From Our Dark Side since its beginning, where part of the winner’s prize package was Frontières accreditation. For a while, we have been wanting to create a real official space for female-driven projects because we are still not receiving as many female directed projects in our general call as I would like to be seeing. So the idea for creating the Directed By Women sessions was to maybe provide some support for projects and filmmakers at an earlier stage than what we ask for in our main call for projects. For the Frontières Market, we ask that projects be in late development, early financing, and that they have a producer onboard and the script is more or less complete. The idea for Directed by Women came about as a half pitch session, half incubator for female filmmakers and screenwriters.    

W: In the last few years, many of the funding agencies such as Telefilm and the Canadian Media Fund, having committed to gender parity through a variety of measures. Did this play a role in the development of this Directed by Women program or has it always been an initiative to get more women in? I did notice that your team is mostly women.

L: We joke about that a lot actually, we are up to three [men on our team] this year and we felt very progressive about that [laughter]. But no, it is always something that has been a real priority for us. For our main selection process, we have not overtly set out to have more diversity in our lineup. We do just try to make sure that the best projects make it in, and two years ago it just so happened that we have a lot of female-driven projects and a lot of projects from visible minorities and that was completely by chance. Which was fantastic and people really noticed and responded to it. It wasn’t really something we advertised, it was just in our opening pitch sessions where people saw this and they started tweeting about it, it was great. But I realized it was really difficult to recreate that naturally. It has always been something that has been a big priority for us and it seems like good timing this year with Telefilms 50/50 initiative.

I also think that it is so early on that we haven’t quite seen exactly how they plan to accomplish that. There is still the question of whether the original problem with the lack of female-driven projects came from them not receiving enough submissions from women or whether they were not approving enough female-driven projects. That was the thinking for an earlier stage section, to help some of these women find the partners needed to get them to the telefilm financing stage.

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Directed By Women Pitch Sessions at Frontières Market

W: Great! You mentioned the huge response to Directed by Women, who is this response coming from?

L: The people attending and the producers. I think that they liked that there was a change in format as to how the projects were pitched. It was a little more aligned with the early stages of the projects. Directed by Women were at the treatment or early draft script stage, and pitched by the director or screenwriter, and pretty much all of our pitchers were early on in their careers.   


W: Do you have a plan on how the Directed By Women will continue to grow at Frontières?

L: We would really like to have Directed by Women pitch sessions next year. It really went over so great. We had such a huge response to it. Our focus is small, I think having seven projects pitching this year was the right amount. At Frontières we aim to keep things a little bit intimate. We grow a little bit every year but we would really love to continue working with WIFTV and From Our Dark Side.
Words by Kaitlen Arundale

From Our Dark Side Winner, Elle Wild, Shares Her Experience at the 2017 Frontières Market

 

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Elle Wild – Strange Things Done

 

What an exceptional experience FRONTIÈRES is for new filmmakers! First and foremost, it was great to catch up with my fellow Dark Siders and see their projects flourishing. Initially, when we found out that we were winners in Women in Film’s “From Our Dark Side” genre writing contest, we knew we’d be attending FRONTIÈRES, but we weren’t expecting the opportunity to pitch there. Later, the Dark Side gals were invited to pitch as part of Fantasia – and a new focus on women filmmakers – in front of a panel of industry experts. I confess that I wasn’t sure how this would go when I packed up my shiny new promo materials (thanks designer Sara Bailey and WIFTV!) and copies of my novel, Strange Things Done, and boarded a plane for Montreal. Strange_Poster_FInal

When we arrived, however, we received such a warm welcome that I immediately felt very much at ease. Also, we had a full day to observe other pitches and relax before our own presentations, so that by the time it was my turn to take the mic, I felt well-prepared.  I think it’s fair to say that we were all a bit trepidatious about what the panel’s comments might be, but I found them to be supportive and insightful. I also thought it was helpful that, when you were booked in a 20-minute meeting with producers, many of them

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Elle Wild and Mariel Scammell, 2017 F.O.D.S. Winners

had already heard the pitch, so you could get down to details. Finally, I loved that FRONTIÈRES offered writers their own table (conveniently close to caffeine) in a collective meeting room, so that instead of scurrying from place to place to pitch your project, all you had to do was show up. I think this helped to emphasize that writers are not beggars at the filmmaking feast, but are an important guest at the table, and I appreciated the gesture. 

 

 

Did I mention that our schedules were absolutely packed with producer meetings? Plus, Montreal! Quelle ville spectaculaire!

Thank you Women in Film, Dark Side sponsors, and FRONTIERS!

-Elle Wild, Filmmaker/NovelistIMG_0739

Heather Hatch on What She Learned at #Banff2017

We caught up with Heather Hatch, the 2017 Banff World Media Festival Mentorship recipient. This mentorship awarded Heather a pass to attend the Banff World Media Festival, June 11- 14, 2017 at the Fairmont Banff Springs. Prior to the festival, she had a chance to consult with her mentor, Cynde Harmon, Producer and CEO for “Really Real Films Inc.” (Stranger In The House, If I Had Wings), as well as meet with members of the WIFTV team both before and at the festival. Here is what Heather had to say.

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2017 Benff Mentorship Recipient, Heather Hatch

How was the Festival? What was the biggest highlight for you?

The first meeting I attended with my team, I did not say a word, I just smiled and nodded, but the BBC can be overwhelming for a first meeting. So, at first the festival was very intimidating but attending the parties and meeting people in the industry at these event made it easier. The biggest highlight was meeting people who have sat on committees for some of the grants I have gotten and getting good news in a pitch meeting.

 

What did you learn throughout your Banff World Media Festival Experience?

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From left to right: Tami Gabay, Cynde Harmon, Karen Wong, Heather Hatch, Pamela Jones

You have to put yourself out there, and working as a team makes it easier. Even if your pitches are not what somebody is looking for, asking them what they are interested in can help you choose projects you want to invest in creatively. Write down on the business cards, something about the person and your conversation so that you can remember them, and make possible connections after the festival. If you have meetings, look them up so you know what they look like, and can talk about some of their projects to break the ice. When booking a meeting, pick a location or it can get hairy trying to find them. Attending the workshops is full of information and can help you meet people.

 

Did the mentorship benefit you? What did you learn from your mentor and how did she help you?

The mentorship with Cynde Harmon, was unbelievable, she was a bubbling well of information, from how to organize my computer files, pitching advice, getting business cards, how to navigate the Banff media website, and how to keep track of and schedule meetings. Mentorship is so important in this industry, you can learn so much form a veteran of the trade, its knowledge that you can not gain through education alone. My Banff experience would not have been as successful without her guidance.

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Heather Hatch (centre) with her mentor Cynde Harmon (left) and WIFTV Treasurer Karen Wong (right)

Do you have any new projects on the Horizon? Or further development of current projects because of this experience?I was lucky enough to get the Telefilm micro grant this year to make a feature length documentary, the story of an Elder who wants to fight for her land that will be flooded by the Site C Dam in British Columbia which you can follow at #DellaFilm. The show that Women in Film and Television sent me to Banff for was a successful pitch meeting that turned into development, which was unbelievable. This show involves indigenous language and storytelling for children, and was created with alliance between myself and my team which you can check out at catapult pictures and open sky pictures.

WIFTV Members With Films at DOXA 2017

With DOXA right around the corner, Women in Film and Television Vancouver caught up with three members whose films will be screening during the festival. DOXA, the name stemming from a Greek word pertaining to the realm of opinion and belief, is heading into its 16th year as Vancouver’s annual international documentary film festival. Presented by the Documentary Media Society, the 11-day festival explores the role of documentary as both an art form and a ‘site of dialogue’.

Shirley Vercruysse

The festival is opening with The Road Forward, an innovative stage play turned musical documentary from award-winning writer, director, and producer, Marie Clements. Clements explores the important and often untold stories of the Aboriginal political and social movements in BC. We chatted with The Road Forward Producer and WIFTV member Shirley Vercruysse  who told us the film reminds the viewer of the history of the First Nations activism in BC in a very personal way, stating “this film is by the right person, made with the right people.” The film tells the stories of Canada’s oldest active Indigenous organization, the Native Brotherhood of British Columbia, The Native Voice newspaper (1946 – 2002), and the Constitutional Express — a peaceful protest on an Ottawa bound train to ensure the rights of Aboriginal people were included in the 1982 Constitutional Act. Vercruysse went on to explain that many of the people involved in making this film, who have also been involved in Aboriginal activism for 50 or 60 years already, felt that the work is successful in telling these stories. Shirley Vercruysse is the Executive Producer of the National Film Board of Canada’s BC & Yukon Studio, based in Vancouver, BC, where she leads the team producing documentary and animation projects. The Road Forward is screening on opening night (May 4th) and again on May 10th. 

The Carnival Band – Photo by Sandra Ignagni

Sandra Ignagni

You’re Already in the Band (You Just Don’t Know It Yet), created by WIFTV member Sandra Ignagni, follows The Carnival Band as they celebrate community through music. The Commercial Drive-based band can be spotted at a variety of events, from protests to parades, all over Vancouver. Ignagni followed The Carnival Band for over a year, documenting rehearsals, road trips, a wedding, a funeral, and everything in between. In 2016 Ignagni was chosen for a WIFTV Short Film Mentorship program. She explained that “my participation in that program helped propel the project forward and that positive momentum was critical to me finishing the film.” Sandra Ignagni is an award-winning documentary filmmaker based in Los Angeles and Vancouver. She trained in film production at Maine Media and Langara College and holds a PhD in Political Science and a Master of Arts in Indigenous & Canadian Studies. You’re Already in the Band (You Just Don’t Know It Yet) will be screening on May 9th and 10th as part of the City Voices: Short Program.

Fixed! Film Still – Photo courtesy of Cat Mills

Joella Cabalu

Fixed! is having its world premiere on May 8th and screening again on May 11th. The film centers around the volunteer-run, grassroots organization known as Repair Café in Toronto. The group holds monthly events where people bring in unexpected items they cherish enough to find out if they can be repaired. We sat down with producer and WIFTV member Joella Cabalu who described these repair services as “tangible, accessible solutions that people can introduce in their lives.”  Cabalu explained that the film focuses on the interactions between the volunteer fixers and the visitors in a way that explores both the community aspect and environmental aspect of repair cafes. Joella Cabalu is a Filipino-Canadian Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with an Art History degree from the University of British Columbia (2008) and a graduate of the Documentary Film Production Program at Langara College (2013). Fixed! is part of the Stuff: Shorts Program, described by DOXA as a collection of films that “calls attention to our increasingly complex and contradictory relationship with our stuff.”

DOXA 2017 is screening at select theatres throughout Vancouver from May 4th to 14th. Check out the schedule here.

Words by Kaitlen Arundale

 

Meet Story Editor and #FromOurDarkSide Consultant Lesley Krueger

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Lesley Krueger is a screenwriter and novelist, raised in Vancouver and now living in Toronto. As a filmmaker, she has written everything from Hollywood movies through international co-pros to tiny-budget short films, script-doctoring Silent Hill from director Christophe Gans, writing the award-winning short How to Keep Your Day Job from director Sean Frewer, and story editing features like writer/director Karen Lam‘s horror film, Stained. Lesley is the author of six books. Her new novel is Mad Richard, which the Globe and Mail calls “alive with wit and rebellion.” She works as a screenwriting mentor at the Canadian Film Centre in Toronto. In 2015 Lesley mentored From Our Dark Side winner Gloria Ui Young Kim on her story Deception, in 2016 she worked with Jennifer Krukowski, and she joined again for Season 3 to consult with Samantha Loney on her project Married to Murder.  Continue reading

Meet Story Editor and #FromOurDarkSide Consultant Sara Snow

Sara SnowSara Snow is a Gemini and Leo award-winning writer who has worked on drama, comedy, youth, and sci-fi series, including stints as writer/producer on Arctic Air, head writer on season 1 of Mr. D., and a season as show runner of Degrassi: The Next Generation. She has story-edited features and short films, including work by Karen Lam and Sharon Lewis and is currently developing a dystopian sci-fi series with award-winning graphic novelist David Robertson and a comedy series with filmmaker/actor Michael Seater. Sara is particularly interested in adaptation, as well as thrillers, dystopian and supernatural stories, and dark comedy projects.

Sara worked with 2015 From Our Dark Side winner Shereen Jerrett, in 2016 she worked with Ana de Lara, and she joined the mentor pool again for Season 3 to consult with Elle Wild on her project Strange Things Done.  Continue reading

Meet Story Editor and #FromOurDarkSide Consultant Nikki Saltz

By Peggy Thompson – Project Consultant

Nikki Saltz is a screenwriter and script consultant based in Toronto. She is the founder of the script consulting agency, House of Stories, and is an alumnus of the prestigious Writers’ Lab at the Canadian Film Centre. Nikki has worked in Script Development for Darius Films, Amaze Film + Television, Whizbang Films, and New York’s Goldcrest Films, as well as with countless producers and writers. When she’s not story editing, Nikki produces horror films written and directed by women with her company, Ikki Pictures. Their film “The Tease” played at the Calgary Horror Con and the Chicago Horror Film Fest last year, and the company has just completed post on a new film. Nikki was the creator of the digital series, Slutty Book Club, produced by Smokebomb Entertainment. Her writing has appeared in Chatelaine Magazine, on the CBC and in the Toronto Star.

This year Nikki is consulting with From Our Dark Side winners Melanie Jones and Mariel Scammell on their respective projects: Switchback and The Lot.

You love horror – why is it an important genre for women?
Horror is undersold as a genre for feminists. It’s a genre where filmmakers often feel like outsiders, and as a result, they tend to be less afraid to be critical, and more willing to tell stories that are critical of society and the status quo. The genre lends itself to disruption, which I love. When you add feminism into that already delicious mix, the results are very exciting to me.

Do you have any favourite horror tropes?
It’s less of a trope and more of a sub-genre, but I’m particularly interested in rape-revenge films. It’s obviously very dark subject matter, but I’m fascinated by how these narratives are depicted in horror, especially because most of the time, they’re written by men and exploited for thrills and scares and titillation. I always have my eye on women who are taking control of narratives that reflect our own experiences… but I’m also a sucker for classics like I Spit On Your Grave, Ms. 45, and The Last House on the Left (which still holds its own as one of the most disturbing films I’ve ever seen!).

Why are you involved as a story consultant with From Our Dark Side?
I think it’s extremely sad that there’s still this perception that horror is a boy’s genre, and sadder still that we even have to have female horror filmmakers instead of just horror filmmakers who happen to be women. When we make films at Ikki Pictures (my production company), we crew at least 75% female, and it always makes me laugh to see the men on our crews turning away and being grossed out by our gore effects, whereas the women don’t even blink an eye at blood and guts. Another reason I’m involved is because every year, I wait to see what films get programmed at Midnight Madness (at TIFF) and every year, I’m sorely disappointed to find maybe one woman director in the program. I’ve asked the festival why this is, and their response was that there simply aren’t lots of women submitting horror films. I don’t know if that’s entirely true, but if it is, I want to be involved in anything that will change that.

Who are some women working in horror who inspire you?
I’m really inspired by Jovanka Vuckovic, who just put out the female horror anthology XX. Beyond being a talented filmmaker, she’s extremely generous and supportive of other women filmmakers, too. The Soska Twins are another favourite(s) of mine. Then there’s Marina De Van (In My Skin) and Claire Denis (Trouble Every Day). I’m also really pumped to see what Julia Ducournau, who made Raw, does next.

And anything else you’d like to add.
Just that I’m so glad From Our Dark Side exists, and I can’t wait to see the films that come out of this incubator!